Thursday, 6 November 2014

Playing Skirmish Sangin

I had this debt for a long, long time. I got the rulebook and some minis more than a year ago, but never dared to play. Every time I opened the book I panicked on the perspective of learning such an apparently complex set of rules. Being myself nothing but a casual gamer, I'm used to ten-pages rules, and anything requiring more than ten minutes to learn how to play totally scares me out. But this had to end. And it did last weekend. And know what? In the end it wasn't that difficult. OK, it took me some time, sure, and we made tons of mistakes, that for granted. But we got into the mechanics of the game and enjoyed it pretty much. Let's go for it.

Skirmish Sangin is a game for modern combat set in Afghanistan.

Sangin is a town in Helmand province, south of the country
Here you have their web and their blog. Though you know I mostly paint and play sci-fi (if I even play something), this game totally deserved a try for me.
This is not the kind of wargame I am used to play. As a matter of fact, it's almost a roleplaying game, each mini being a character on his own, with separate stats and skills; so each combatant needs a name and a spare control sheet.
For my first game I thought that a small skirmish would be enough. After having a look at the book I chose to use five ISAF soldiers (all that I have for the moment) and seven Taliban fighters. I thought that would be kinda balanced. To avoid further complications I equipped everyone just the same, i.e., the Spanish soldiers all bearing G36 and light armour and the Taliban all carrying AK47. If we could manage this, I would be more prone to include more variety for future games.

The first thing then is to generate your characters. You need to roll some dice in order to give them their profiles. The 'body' points you roll here will determine how your character will behave in combat. Higher values mean that your combatant will act first and that his combat skills will be better.
So I rolled the D10 and got the profiles for Master Sergeant Martín (Veteran), Corporal Aguirre, Private López, Private Díaz and Private Alonso (all average), as well as for Majid Khan (Veteran Mujahedeen), Abdul, Shamul, Molani, Kamaluddin, Zabiulah and Eineddin (all average).
OK, I know, I know, too many names. I get it, I'll try not to mess you with too much info :P. I'll begin the report and will explain the rules as they come.

For our game we chose a variation of the 'Recon patrol' scenario proposed in the book. The variations were just the restrictions on the minis and the scenery I have ;)

A Paratroopers patrol looses contact with the rest of their Platoon and then a Taliban group isolates them and open fire. The Spanish fireteam, being surrounded, must make their way out of the street to get to the ISAF positions.


Streets of Bala Murghab
The Paratroopers begin the game in the center of the board, getting cover from the buildings as they see a number of locals incoming with a clear hostile intent from both sides of the street. Some shots are fired towards them (no f*****g hostile intent anymore, total hostile act now) and then Master Sergeant Martín gives their men the order of taking cover and getting out of there as soon as possible, using the minimum force necessary to that extent, including the use of deadly force if needed (which will be the obvious case, now that they are under fire).

Sarge, did we invite these guys to the party?
Let's get into the game. Each turn is divided into 10 combat phases. Depending on the 'body points' you got when assigning profiles, the character will act during phases 1, 3, 5 and 7, or in phases 2, 4, 6 and 8, or in phases 3, 5, 7, and 9... That means that 'better' combatants will act before. That also means that each turn, each character will act four times, so the alternate phase involves quite a dynamic turn.
 You have 3 action points per combat phase. You can use them in walking, running, kneeling, spotting, etc. Every imaginable action is covered here and requires one action point to be completed. Your shooting skills also depend on the 'body points', as they will be the base for calculating them. You will get percentages, so you need to roll 1d100 to determine if you hit the target or not.
If the target is hit, you roll 2d10 against the 'armour' value of the character to determine if he is wounded or not. The greater the difference, the most severe the wound.
Master Sergeant Martín shoots Eineddin and takes him down.
 When a character is wounded, he can be beaten unconscious on stay on the ground screaming in pain. That will have different effect on his mates' morale, as it's quite a... delicate experience to see how your pal is taken down or screams while you yourself are under fire.

Majid Khan shoots Pvt. Alonso. Doesn't hit him due to cover
Cpl. Aguirre shoots Majid Khan. Misses too
 Even not hitting your target may have some effect, as again, being under fire is quite a stressful experience. Next combat phase the (even unaffected) target will have to roll 1d100 against his Morale value. Percentage modifiers can be applied depending on the situation. We'll get into that later, don't worry.

Abdul boldly advances and miraculously doesn't get hit
Shamul takes the rearguard
Pvt. Díaz shoots Majid Khan and takes him down

So this was the situation after everyone had finished their first combat phase. Eineddin was unconscious and hors de combat, Majid Khan seriously wounded and everyone would have to roll a morale check. In the following pic you will see lots of markers, but don't worry, they are just for us avoiding to forget what we had to do next, not all of them involved modifiers or anything :D

As a matter of fact, as everybody has to roll for the next phase, we could have taken the tokens apart

While Master Sergeant Martín was covering their men's back due to Shamul's manoeuver, Abdul approached and shoot him on the back

Taliban crossed fire
Gentlemen, we really need to get outta here!
Easy to say, Sarge!

The Spanish troops were stuck in the combat but they were not moving, and that definitely was what they were supposed to do! So at the beginning of the fifth combat phase (third activation for the characters that started the first phase), the Sarge lead the way.

[Colourful insults in Spanish] Come on, this way!!

The fireteam begins to move
You see a 'prone' token next to some minis. You can go prone by using one action point, right, but in this case this is due to failing a morale check. If you don't pass it, your character goes prone next combat phase and does nothing during it, will need to check again on the next phase. That represents the combatant crouching in whatever cover he may find until he feels secure to do anything.

Some chroma key effects should be added there on the horizon

As Pvt. Alonso was stuck in the building under hostile fire, the rest of the fireteam was not to abandon him. Master Sergeant moved again towards him to give support fire...

And got wound!

He received a light wound, decreasing his combat abilities and morale. The rest of the team will need to check their morale for the next combat phase.

The Taliban are pressing. Not sure of what the wounded leader is doing back there

Private Díaz knocked Kamaluddin down while Master Sergeant Martín and Private Alonso moved away again

Pretty bad place for a firefight
Private López also takes care of Molani and causes him a severe wound

What the hell is Majid Khan doing there? Wasn't he injured?
He is properly dealt. Though injured, he posed a threat

And all the fireteam but the Master Sergeant leaves the street. He stays to provide covering fire.

Kamaluddin is hit, taking a light wound

But before his next combat phase, Kamaluddin hits him again. Man down!

Things get ugly quite suddenly

He finally manages to get up again (tricky rolls with such negative modifiers!) and tries a final shot to the incoming hostiles.

But hitting someone in his conditions is just asking too much
 He finally joins the rest of the team, they are all safe and only Master Sergeant is wounded, requiring ROLE assistance.

Got everyone home safe, that's what counts at the end of a f*****g day like this

Can you believe that what you just read is no more than one and a half turn? :D Well, to be honest, that means six turns in any other game ;)
Skirmish Sangin is a totally detailed game, absolutely full of real situations taken into account. I can hardly think of a situation not covered under the rules. Everything here has been previously weighed and studied, and you can see that when playing. That's great, the game is really atmospheric and you can feel the actual pressure of combat. The skirmish concept is quite refreshing for me, I enjoyed it being only a few guys against a few guys, everyone having his own name and stats.

I confess that everytime I opened the book I felt overwhelmed by such detailed rules (and closed it in despair without really reading it), but once I commited myself to learn, it is not that hard. And once you get the mechanics of it, the game suddenly becomes much easier than what you thought at the beginning.

Of course, just as every time I play a game for the first time, I'm sure we made hundreds of mistakes. But now that we are more familiar with the rules, I guess the next one will be more easy going. We only used quite a fistful of basic rules, so now we should make a ROEREQ and learn how to use heavy weapons, grenades and all that stuff I didn't dare to use for the first game :D

And definitely I need more scenery. Much more...

10 comments:

  1. It looks like to me a very interesting game but for what all those seems that it has complicated rules, though then you say that not so much.

    The truth is that coming from the world of fantasy and scify is complicated to adjust to this games.

    But I believe that there will be necessary to try.

    A small detachment of US Marines, SAS or mercs of Blackwater (Academi Empress nor) it can be entertained of doing.

    Thank you for the review.

    And for all the gods, do more scenery!!!

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    1. Haha, I encourage you to give this a try! You'll enjoy!
      And you're totally right, need more scenery, agh!

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  2. Haces que me den ganas de jugar guerra moderna, un reporte excelente, creo que nos vas marcando ejemplo en estas latitudes

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    1. ¡Muchas gracias! Me gusta variar y hacer cosas diferentes de cuando en cuando, para mí es muy referescante. Me alegra mucho que guste :)

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  3. Uf, tanto detalle no sé si es para mí... ¿Tú has probado el Ambush Alley? Por comparar...

    En cualquier caso, gran informe!!

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    1. Parece más complicado de lo que realmente es. No he llegado a probar el Ambush Alley, realmente me gustaría echarle un ojo, tendré que buscar el reglamento :)

      -It looks more complex that it really is. I haven't had a chance of trying Ambush Alley, I'd really like to have a look at it, I'll have to look for the rulebook :)

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  4. Sounds like me when I first opened Force On Force! May have to pick this ruleset up!

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    1. I enjoyed it pretty much! Though I haven't played FoF, I think it's all about the ambientation, if you get into it, there are no difficult rules at all!

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  5. The terrain and buildings look very realistic but it must have been 'hell' to paint seeing that it's repetitive process.

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    1. Well, they were easier than they look. It all was just a primer spray, then a first wash with earth brown all over, a second wash with a darker brown on the bricks seen and then just the base colour and highlights again. Those buildings are lovely. A little bit pricey for me due to custom expenses, but gorgeous anyway :)

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